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Second French warship arrives in Red Sea region

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A second French warship has arrived in the Red Sea region as part of efforts to ensure freedom of navigation, the French army said on Thursday.

The Alsace warship © Seaforces

A second French warship has arrived in the Red Sea region as part of efforts to ensure freedom of navigation, the French army said on Thursday.

Many commercial shippers have diverted vessels to other routes following attacks in the Red Sea by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi militants, who say they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians as Israel and Hamas wage war in Gaza.

The Languedoc warship has already been patrolling in the Bab al-Mandab straits since Dec. 8 alongside a U.S.-led international mission to protect ships from attacks.

In a weekly briefing to reporters, the army said the Alsace warship had crossed the Suez Canal and would continue its mission in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.

French officials have said their ships remain under national command and their priority is to escort French-linked vessels.

"In close cooperation with the allies the French warships contribute to the respect of international law and freedom of navigation," the army said.

France did not take part in U.S.-led strikes against Houthi rebels because it wants to avoid a regional escalation, President Emmanuel Macron has said.

(Reporting by John Irish

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